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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  March 20, 2011 5:15pm-6:00pm EDT

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thing by doing the lord's work as well and i certainly support what they're up to. but there is room for a lot of voice and that's important when you are reviewing books is that there are a lot of voices. so you are not just stuck with one or two reactions to a new book, which may be idiosyncratic in their reactions. >> will you be looking at politically slanted books as well and will you be looking up both books from the left and from the right or from the middle? >> of coors. we are predominantly with washington area writers and have a lot of interest in political and historical topics. we take the moral and from every point on the spectrum. >> how often we be putting up new material? >> we have new content every day, either the new interview for a new review.
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you know, in the early days, we are trying not to set the bar too high ourselves, but as time goes on, we expect the content to become richer and richer and were really looking forward to that. >> mr. stuart come you see the perceived money the money to the aiw freedom to write fun. what is that? >> it's associated with the raiders organization here in the d.c. area. and the freedom to write fund is a five o. one c. five o. one c. three that's affiliated with aiw. and we've been very modest fund-raising. we need to do more, but enough to get us up and running and it's been a great sponsorship. >> david stewart is president of the washington independent review of is the website. >> you are watching booktv on
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c-span 2, 48 hours of nonfiction authors and books every weekend. >> and "the bee eater," said to examine school chancellor michelle rhee and her three-year effort to reform the school system. this event is 40 minutes. >> the question that i get asked most about this book is how did i get started on this? it's kind of an interesting story because i finished the book and i knew if i was going to write another book, that it shouldn't be another issue. people love issue books, but they don't actually buy an issue book. [laughter] i wanted to write one that a reason to turn the page. my wife and i were out biking and all of a sudden i realized i
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ended up asking michelle to cooperate in some way the book. she eventually -- she give me some access here -- enough obviously to the book, which is great. everyone also asked me what my favorite michelle story is. the problem -- there's another one i'd love. in may that might -- when the girls, when the daughters were much younger, kevin and michelle went to the original pancake house for a special meal. and there's always a big fine there. and sure enough there was the land they are this time. this is creating an echo? and so, the problem is they were
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open tables instead of going around. as he tells the story, michelle takes about embarks behind the maître d' desk and back and looks around at the restaurant. and finally she just walks behind the maître d' and says okay, you, over here. and then she like dispatch the whole thing. and the funniest thing kevin said as the staff of the restaurant really grateful that somebody knew what they were doing. so that is made favorite michelle story. and i'm going to wrap it up because they know q&a is far more interesting than listening to me. the significance of the book is my gut instinct in starting the book was michelle would be tackling the core issues that we are going to b.c. plane out and states and school districts in the coming years. and you know, i'd like to say some genius on my part is accidental, but in fact it is happening. if you look at the teachers
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contract and you are colorado, florida, new jersey, nevada, new york. and all those places come if you look at reforms proposed to see how they play out on the ground would be washington d.c. of course, some politicians will look at what happened and say why would we do that? the maher lost his job in the show lost job. and to those who would say you've got a good point there. so why would anyone do that? a couple of reasons. there's a whole group of politicians were you can do the same kind of reform only a smile more when you're doing them and you are more collaborative. are they right? i think it depends on the school district. mid functioning school district publicly could do that. unfortunately there are a lot of school districts with the same
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profile and i don't think you can get away with it. there's another way of answering this question. i recall asking this of kevin johnson. i thought, here is a politician who is also immersed in education issues and also went door to door campaigning. i said, you know, speaking of the maher, why would anyone reach out for michelle rhee concern would have been? he said people like us are so desperate to make a dent, some improvement in school district. and so it is going to happen committee are going to start reaching out. he offered this avalanche of offers after she said down. so i think kevin is right. these reforms are going to be tried again and not just late versions. i am going to pass it to michelle who amazed me by agreeing to talk about her relations with the press,
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probably her least favorite topic. but considering this is organized by the writers association, she played along as a good sport. >> my relations with the press. i think my relationship with the press was complicating. a lot of very good things happen because of the press attention we got, with efforts who are putting forth. i was really surprised, to tell you the truth, when i started the job that there was so much interest in what we were doing. at first, you know, we would often go out to dinner with richard and sean is heard us talk about how strange it was. at first i really thought it was because the visual was so start. here is the korean american woman who is young, who has
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never run a school, much less a school district and now she has taken on the job in mostly an african american city and are set to start visual, i thought i was sort of driving the interest in the news. and i thought it would dissipate over time. and try as they might, it did not happen. and it just seems like the press interest and intensity increased over time. and i remember having dinner one night with the journalists here in the city. and we had a particularly challenging prize state that day. i said i don't get it. if there is a site in the cafeteria at some high school in new york city, i can guarantee "the new york times" is not covering not. what is going on in the "washington post" covering every single thing that's happening and i don't get it.
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he looked to me and said, i can tell you why there's so much interest. he said it's because you give good quote. he said, you say the things that we know people are probably thinking and there had, but they are trained to do better in sick to their talking points and you actually say those things. you say there are some teachers who are not so good and need to be removed. and so, that's why the press lets you. so i thought that was interesting. i will say this. i don't often a lot to say this or not, but i'm going to say it. [laughter] as per usual. i think that there were people in the media who were extraordinary helpful to us in this effort. and i honestly don't think we could done the work that we did
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without some of the media actually backing us 100% of the way. and things kind of spiraled out of control with what people were thinking about blogs were saying and the voice of reason. i couldn't trade that i wouldn't trade that for anything because there was a venue through which there is a constant and consistent voice, but mostly it was right. that was extraordinarily helpful. i also will tell you we made a ton of mistakes when it came to the media. it is funny because starting from very early on in my tenure, people would make comments to either me or my staff saying, and you guys have the best pr machine after. i mean, you are getting covered by all of these major national news outlets.
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there's this mastermind behind it. little did they know is a bunch of 24-year-olds running around. we had no idea what we were doing. we didn't have a pressure per se. and somehow people thought it was the pr press machine. it was the lack thereof. and, we thought we were going to work hard, to the right thing and produced the results. just making sure that we are focused on the right things and producing results. and i think that we very much underestimated the power that the media would have been shaping the message. and so, what we ended up with was a situation where the teachers -- they were getting messages and reading things in a newspaper or on the blog.
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and they were getting the message shape and there had. and this is our fault. we did not do our part to send a different message for what the bleep. and so, without those people things they are saying is not spared in the absence of us putting anything different out was actually stuck in people's heads and became the narrative. and that's where we really fell down in all of this. and interestingly enough, they are people that will remember back in the day we would say to the superintendent, do not abdicate the communication directly to teachers to the union. you have to be strictly communicating with teachers. and after we took over the school district, we didn't do that. so i would say that i think our
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biggest challenge in my biggest lesson learned is all of this has to do with that communication, specifically to the teachers. not necessarily the rest of the public, but what really did not service while with the fact we weren't directly communicating with teachers. so complicated stuff. like i said, both good and bad. i absolutely say that because of the national attention that god for the effort, we got a lot of support. i don't think we ever would've gotten the $65 million in foundation support for the effort we embarked on from national organizations unless they believe what we're doing here was going to have a national impact and that would have happened were it not for the press and media that were involved in the effort. so i save good, not so good on
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the massacres died. there is just a lot that could've been better. [inaudible] >> i was hoping to get michelle to answer when the thing on this issue because i thought we had such an interesting conversation about the whole time cover. that by the way back or is the backup time cover. >> the one they were supposed to be writing. >> as opposed to the one that the broom. and i was thinking, what were you thinking? in hindsight, what would've made it different? they say no, you may not do this with the per minute. you had an interesting and other to whether you should have the pr trade fair in things like that. >> well, i like to travel alone. i like to do my own thing. and you know, people that often, when i would show up someplace workaround and see where your
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staff? i would say, they are at the office working but they should be, not following me around. so that was just my thoughts in all of this. i mean, i am not a movie star or one of these people. i don't need folks following me around. i'm just doing my job. i will say, i did know that was the picture they were going with until three days before it came out. actually, i don't regret that cover. i regret that people took it the wrong way. you know, they took it to mean that i was somehow demeaning people and that was not it at all. i really solve the room as a symbol of needing a clean sweep. i mean, literally sweeping change, needing to clean house. and i don't think there's anybody that can argue with me about the fact that we absolutely had to have sweeping
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changes in what we were doing. we could not go around the edges and spend another 10 years trying to get 10 more percentage point gain for the children in washington d.c. it wasn't good enough for them. >> well, now would really like to take questions from all of you come either from richard or michelle. suzanne. >> michelle, i can't remember whether it was the museum of fine or waiting for superman or something now where you were in discussion with geoffrey canada. and he made the observation about the fact that many of the people that this change is meant to benefit are opposed to it. and how disturbing that is.
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and i wonder if you could comment on that in terms of the most active parents and community members being not grasping the reason for the change. >> so, i think there are a few distinctions that are important. often times, people would portray the opposition to what we're doing as parent. parents don't like you. parents don't like the changes. and certainly the majority of the people who disagree with our school closer plan were parents. but the people who sort of opposed every step we took were not -- they were not a large group of parents. parents were actually seen improvements being made every day. it was more general members who are happy with their approach. and i'd also say that richard
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touches a little on this in the book and i only sort of learned about this jury is reporting actually the site he talked of the book done a word so inane jordans neighborhood for the school isn't asking people about questions of education and what were the school site before they took over in the vast majority felt like schools for now heading in the right direction and they could see the improvement. i was also echoed in the "washington post" poll that also said record numbers of citizens were feeling hurt and in positive about school reform. so when richard asked the question -- is it necessary to fire the teachers in order to do
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that gains and they said no. they need the school had gotten a lot better, but they didn't think the stuff had been taken were necessary to get there. and that was a huge ha ha moment because when i realized was we had not done a good job of connecting the dots. we are not just firing people because it's fun and we like it. it's not a pleasant situation to be in, but because we believed that the steps we were taking, whether it was termination, school closures, et cetera were all linked to the product they were seen on the back end, which was higher quality instruction and leadership. >> just too had come michelle points out that yes i did some pulling their ads sues the, but it sousa middle-school i met
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people coming out and asked them about this. keep in mind that sousa is the school in superman that was one of the worst in the world essentially. and a lot was at stake in this election because of his clear that michelle would be gone. and although greg is not dissembled the school, not gone back, with a clear during the primary at all because it was very harsh attitudes towards the reforms. i thought, this is a school with the spirits in this community have everything to lose and this would be it. and i was shocked. there were -- it all comes back that there was huge recension on the firings and almost 0 cents among people i talk to at the firings that took place at sousa
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had anything to do with that school improving dramatically. i mean, nothing. no connection at all. i thought that was pretty striking. [inaudible] >> -- about your process as a writer. obviously there's a lot of competing narratives around your time is chance letter and how you chose to include those are valid those and make decisions about what was valid for inclusion in your book. just certify you chose to balance competing narratives about what was cut again and what you chose and why you chose to include certain narratives. >> that's a great question. my book is on the other week and already had been trashed in a lot of places. i knew that i would.
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i only had one shot at doing this book. so the question is, how are you going to spend your 270 pages? do you always have opposing views and opposing voices, this kind of thing or do you set off in training at at the one big question? to me, the question was, you know, can an urban school district like dcb turned around? was this the right strategy? wasn't working and should other school districts follow that strategy? and so, although there is a biography and they are and frankly that the fun part of the book is michelle growing up. if things happen in her life that weren't relevant to answering that question, like how did somebody like this come to this position that got tossed. and i waited a long time and really getting criticized for this. what it should have a chat to
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your teachers and the impact this had on them. this gets to the heart of your question. leave me, i thought about doing that to avoid the criticism because if this had been about about d.c. and the impact on d.c., analysts would've done that, but that's not what this book was. this book again and was, was the right strategy chosen? should the school districts pursue this? obvious that the national perception. so i did not do that. and i thought if i was going to profile teachers come and they should be teachers that were brought in that big a difference, is why we keep talking about the sousa chapter here. mainly because it was such a dramatic turnaround done by duan jordan bringing ineffective teachers, not just bringing them in. he was never around. he was always in the classroom telling them how to teach. there was a funny and it showed in the book.
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you know, i would arrive sometimes for interviews at sousa. i would be out cooling my heels in the outer office. he could really care less about me to put it this way. i was not a big priority in his life. his priority without there in the classrooms. so i'd have to like bank and we don't my weigh-in. it was really very funny. at first i was kind of offended. and then i realized, you know, he's got one thing on his mind. so anyway, i digress. that's why i didn't include the broader picture and i have this narrow narrative if you will and i'll take my lumps on the. she only got 270 pages. >> michelle, it was good to see you.
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i'm happy to be invited to your party. is a couple practices i don't necessarily agree with on no child left behind and the impact on high schools. i think michelle came in and really did challenge that and try to take it on in the district's high school. but i would like to know if during your tenure if there had been other chancellors around the country that had come to you even quietly to ask how they can do what you are doing, even if they were maybe afraid to take it on so helplessly as you did. [inaudible] >> my question more to michelle and my commentary was, did other school chancellors errs superintendents there were in the position you were in and trying to really shake up the district school, did anyone come
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to quietly and ask how you're doing it for what it was taking for you to have the ability to do what you are doing, even if they didn't want to publicly be known for that? >> superintendents in chancellors come to michelle and ask her what she was really doing and what was the method to her not not mess, you know, and was that something they could emulate? >> i have mostly peaceful who were just coming into their jobs, who are trying to get a lay of the land and trying to understand before they really cut up and running, what the challenges were, why i made the decisions i made, was i happy with those are not? lots of folks came to me to ask about school closures. when we close the 23 schools in
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d.c., no other districts have ever close anything close to that in one shot. and after another member of cities did occur. we got questions about the school closures in particular. >> michelle, what did you think of the arbitrator's decision the day before yesterday? are there lessons to learn from it? why haven't you sent whether you're going to appeal it? [inaudible] [laughter] >> i am happy to answer that question. and i'm so glad because now that i'm not a nut job, i can really answer the way i believe. it is a crock, and that decision an absolute crock. i mean, if you look and said these people were not good, right. and if you look at what we are -- what we are required to
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do in order to remove a probationary teacher from their position, with the letter of the law states, we actually met. but he was saying we did not do with an explanation of why to the teacher. that is nowhere and the requirement of what is necessary. so i have no idea what that band was thinking. in fact, we're actually advised by our councils, when you have terminations can you actually don't go into long as people about why and what not. that is exactly what happened, so i think the decision was absolutely incorrect. the appeal will be turned over.
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[inaudible] >> i am curious as a journalist, how do you react to this narrative of your tenure and what is the one thing you would've told differently if you are describing it in your own book? >> how did you react to the narrative of your tenure and what is the one thing you would add if you are to be writing the book yourself? [inaudible] [laughter] >> i -- what do they think about the book?
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[inaudible] >> potentially and i think we got through a little bit through the sousa chapter. if i were to add anything to this, i would try to avoid the kids. i would -- get my energy from children. you know, the difference between you and other schools as most people love their children, but for some reason you like all children. and i do. i like adults bioassay didn't kids. so the city is full of children who have so much potential, so much talent. they are absolutely amazing kids and never ceases to amaze me. whether he was talking to a kid in our army student cabinet who we are very close but all three years i was there.
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i at e-mails from all the time. the children of the city are absolutely phenomenal. and the one threat that i regret not seeing in this is the voice of at least one student and what their experiences where over the three-year period of what they saw, both from the school side and also from a community site. i think that would have been a nice addition. >> do you want to talk about that at all? did you think about that -- the 270 pages >> it was partly my long years the u.s.a. today, where he would get lectures from the editors unmoving eyeballs. if you watch somebody reading this paper and this gift to the newspaper can you get to the point of the story where they are gone. when i am reading -- i
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understand what you're saying, but i was afraid of losing the eyeball. you know, they are cuter -- >> richard wrote about the advantage point of a strong leader, and in, which i absolutely agree is one of the key things that can make a turnaround either work or not. let me type this from a slightly different perspective. so in principle jordan first came in, i started hearing from my staff, that is really turning around. my first year was an absolute disaster. it was literally one of the most functional schools we had, church of the "washington post" calling it an academic sinkhole. i started hearing things early on but things are looking up, things were better. and in the first year i don't think i was actually able to visit the school. i thought after the first year
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the past 13, which were almost unbelievable. sometimes when we see gains come you kind of wonder with the campfire. i saw a number of schools like that visited all the schools. i will tell you some of the schools that have really? this is a school -- i'd walk to and in every classroom at what gentoo, children were engaged 100% engaged. they were all wearing uniforms. uniforms protect and. i mean, this is a school that utterly absolutely felt comfortable sending my own children to 100% in that short a time period, which is a huge thing. so i wanted to kind of understand what it happened and what the perspective of others was. i decided to hold a teacher listening session the next week and i'd show up at 3:15 and get out of the car in the kids are just now getting out of school.
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so i'm walking into the schools and all the sudden the kids see me and they are like chance alert rhee, chancellor rhee. usually when i walk in the schools on the kids are looking at me like a chinese lady is walking around. so they are hugging me and taking there's pictures of me. i thought it was a little strange. so i started talking to some of the kids. i said so, what elementary school did you go to? i said, do you think that cool prepared you for the rigors here at the sousa? she said well, it's really different. she said well, the teachers here teach. and i said okay, what does that mean? she said they really teach us to think outside the box. and this is a sixth grader who is famous. it was interesting to hear from the kids do. they were all telling me what they thought about booker
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elementary school experience, how it differed from their middle-school experience. they could articulate what the differences were. >> next up i'm going to let michelle interview the kids. if i could just jump in with a quick question here because it was alluded to the high school dilemma, if you will. when michelle took over, they were called comprehensive high schools. and michelle realized she couldn't take them all on at once. the utep gum on a few at a time and there was backsliding. i focus on one, dunbar which did really well for one year and then bring it to some huge problems. and i came away from this whole thing, not really that
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encouraged. i'm not saying it can't be done, but what is your hindsight here quite >> it is extraordinarily difficult. they're are very, very few differences in this country is what we are trying to do, which is taking over at large comprehensive school at this and seen the massive turnaround. i'm very proud to say one of them was led by my fiancé, kevin johnson and sacramento. that effort though it took five years. the first years they didn't see academic gains. the subculture and expect patience. and last week i took from my staff because we are relocating to sacramento for a thursday. it's fascinating because that school, when they took it over with failing school. there is not a single security guard, no metal gears.
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it's a completely different school now. but it is one of just a few in the country that has managed to get their and was not an overnight work of art. now i think they are seven years into it and they are still learning lessons about what needs to be done. >> as a reporter for education week i visited the first year and it was much a work in progress, but there is huge change already, but it took a while. we have time for one more question. >> i have a question for both of you. i have a six-year-old in d.c. public schools. we love the school and most of the parents do, but the question is did he just raised, which is what do you do when they reach high school age? most of us who live in d.c. think we have to go to a private school or move out to the
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suburbs. i was raised in public schools and went to college in public schools and i'm a believer in that. the reality is what you do for your kids? the question i have for you, michelle, as you mentioned factors for a turnaround in a high school. how much time do you think you need here to really make a complete change? you know, my son's elementary school is great. we love it. middle-school is that so much a problem, but high school really is the barrier. what do you think if you could tardive project -- what was your timeline in your head for real change to be effective? >> from the devoted parent who doesn't have a lot of time to wait for schools to get better because their children only have one shot at an education, michelle, what was your timeline? how long to think it really would've taken you to get
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schools to the point where everyone in this room would feel comfortable sending their own children to that? >> when we started our effort to gather, we talked about transformation of the school district over to terms over an eight-year period in a team end of the ears, everything would be perfect. and we really felt the entire city would be able to look at and say this is a wildly different school district then it was when they got started. and it's interesting because during my three and a half years here, i was often greeted with advice from people who would say, you need to slow down. you are trying to do too much too fast and you need to understand that change doesn't happen overnight. and i will tell you that none of the people who said that to me
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had children in the d.c. public schools. i had my children in the school district i knew every single day that every decision i was making was going to impact them one way or another. and i simply wasn't willing to say to another family, okay, just give me five more years and then the school that your kid is out will be better. that is part of the reason even those controversial i came out in favor of the opportunity scholarships program here and also charter schools -- effective charter schools. i said i don't want any parent to want to have to wait until i fixed the high school or middle-school or elementary school. they should have the right to have their children attend a high-quality school today. and i hope a lot of them stick with me. my effort has to be focused on changing them as quickly as humanly possible and hope that
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what we're doing is so high-quality that have brought people potentially back. i was not going to close the door and not people and you've got to take one for the team and have your kids suffer through the next two years. >> because i would like to end the q&a on a on a positive note, i think i will not respond to that question, but i had already described i was stunned -- i knew going in nationally have difficult it is to turnaround and urban high school. i thought i was watching one, but didn't really make it that far past year too. and like i said, i will end on a positive note. and there's some other people i try to identify who can maybe come in. i think sean bridges. he's the one who rescued me when
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i showed up on the wrong day for the interview and also gave me batteries when the recorder ran out. did james and may never make it? to listen, i appreciate everyone coming. we want something clean and books i need opportunities. books are being given away by the publisher and i'll be your as long as my voice -- by handholds out. appreciate it. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> for more information, visit the books website, "the bee eater".com >> it's more than chicago economic history. features have transformed the financial system in ways that i think you don't fully appreciate and don't realize. and that goes for traders as
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well as for people who are now wrestling with derivatives and understanding where they came from and what happens here is a story that hasn't done told very much. and i am not so silly as to think it is completely told in this book either. a man, i am hoping this is really interesting history and deserves a lot more attention. i know i have more stories that didn't make a name, so i hope i can have to do in another time because they're just really isn't much here. so i asked bill to talk because i was hoping that he might be able to explain to people who aren't in the industry who are here what we've been talking about at all because his family
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very much mirrors the future industry here in chicago. so maybe you could just start, if you don't mind, but what is the futures contract? >> i know a lot of people think of this very mysterious type business, but the futures contracts are essentially insurance products and now is the reason that the industry first developed. it was futures contracts their way to offset reyes on the way to use commodities and people who produce commodities. simply come a futures contract is a contract to train a buyer and a seller for us is that the commodity in a specific price, for a specific future delivery date. the easiest way to explain it in terms of how it's used by people to


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